Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings- The Critters In My Neighborhood

One of the interesting things about the neighborhood that I live in is the fact that nearly all of us seem to have pets. Not only that, there seems to be a pretty even mixture of dogs and cats. The problem is that not everyone is a RESPONSIBLE pet owner.

My cats are mainly indoor cats. They do, once in a while, manage to escape and have to be chased down. I have never left them outside for extended periods of time. They have all been spayed/neutered. I groom them fairly often, although probably not as often as they'd like. There are several semi-feral cats that have taken up residence in my backyard/under the house. I am not responsible for them, but I have been known to put out a little food & water in bad weather (and a blanket lined box in a sheltered area during one really bad winter) because I hate the thought of any innocent creature suffering.

One of my neighbors, J, helped me chase down Nightshade when she escaped a few years ago. She told me about how she fostered dogs & cats and had several of her own. Then she pointed to a cat that had come to see what we were doing. "That one's mine," she said. "But she likes living outside." It was a pretty cat. She looked like a golden version of my Felicity. In talking, I discovered they are about the same age. I forget what J said her name actually was, but took to calling her Mooch, because after that day, she spent a great deal of time trying to get into MY house, and begged shamelessly for feeding.

A Latino family moved in to the house across and down one from mine. Mooch convinced them that they needed to feed her too. Their house has a bigger, partially enclosed porch and they took to leaving food & water bowls out. And then they put a bed out there for her too. She still spent a lot of time in my yard, which drove Felicity crazy. I always knew Mooch was out when I heard the "SPROING" of Felicity bouncing off the window screen (Which, mercifully, is still holding up) and the bawling of kitty challenges.

Eventually the other cats I mentioned showed up. There is a big black & white one that I have taken to calling Jazz. (no idea why, but s/he answers to it now) There are two smaller, but amazing fluffy black kitties back there as well. They often go over to Mooch's porch for meals, but always come back to my yard. I recently found out that they are Moochie's kittens- and were probably born under my house. So not only had  my nimrod neighbor left this cat outdoors, she'd never been spayed.

We have a variety of other wildlife in the area, despite the wild cats. There are bunnies galore (funny rabbit story coming in a later post), including some kamikaze bunnies that I *SWEAR* listen for the sound of my car and come scampering out into the street in front of me, leading me to slam on my brakes and shriek like a madwoman. We have squirrels, and possum (ick) and something that I think may be an otter living in the large drainage ditch.And birds- oh do we have birds. There are a couple of big fat robins that love to dance about in the yard, taunting my 3 brats. I used to have a couple of feeders hanging in the yard, but the wind storms we had the last few years broke all the low branches and trashed them.

I was talking to my neighbor directly across from me the other night. She was out with her puppy, Remy, and I had crossed the street to play with the pup since I know Miss Fran is trying to teach her NOT to go zipping out into the road. Our street is quiet, but has an oddly steady amount of traffic. Anyway, Fran asked me what I thought about the fight the Latino family was having with Mooch's purported owner. I've been a bit preoccupied with family and work issues, so I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.

It seems that poor little Moochie had been hit by a car a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if they saw it happen or if she managed to drag herself to their house, but the Latinos (I really need to learn their names) raced her to the vet. She was pretty badly injured, but they were able to save her, and it was at some expense. J didn't offer to help pay for any of it. The Samaritans decided that they were going to make Mooch an indoor cat, period, and she now officially lives with them, apparently in the lap of luxury. (They still feed the other cats though. I really do need to get to know them because I think that's pretty cool of them) J is apparently now claiming that they've stolen HER cat. A cat she never fed, left outside, and did NOTHING for when she was injured. The few neighbors on the street that care are all siding with the Latino family. So am I, now.

I don't get how she can brazenly claim to care about this cat. Nothing she has done screams PET LOVER to me. As for the animals she claims to foster- nobody has ever seen an animal go in or out of that house. At this point, I'd be afraid to go in myself. There's no telling what's in there.

So what do you think? Can you really call yourself a pet owner if you leave your pet to roam wildly? I don't mean letting your dog out to run- we used to be guilty of that with our beloved Scotty Dog, but he ALWAYS came home, inside, to sleep & eat, and be generally loved on. (I doubt we'd do that kind of thing today- there are too many nuts out there) I mean leaving an animal out, permanently, providing no care of any sort. Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lord & Lady Spy- Shana Galen

Lord and Lady Spy

This was a fun romp set in regency England. Lord Adrian Smythe & his wife, Sophia, have a rather strained marriage. They rarely seem to be in the same place at the same time and neither shows much interest in the other's doings....until they each answer a mysterious summons and discover that they are BOTH part of a spy network in service to their country. Each of them had been a top agent until having been placed on the (unwillingly) retired list and they are given an assignment that will give ONE of them a chance to return to active duty. After some initial clashing, they realize that they work well together professionally and also that they are beginning to truly fall in love. Now all they have to do is solve the case, stay alive while doing it, and try to figure out how their marriage will survive competing for the lone spying position.

*warning to Gentle Readers* This book contains some seriously steamy sex scenes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Musings- Funeral Attire

I've had the misfortune of having to attend several funerals in the last few years, and I've noticed a trend that disturbs me. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but I really think that the world has taken casual culture a bit too far.

Case in point- what does one wear to a funeral? Different cultures have their own traditions- for example, I think that the Chinese consider white to be the color for death- but for a long time, black- or at the very least, a muted dark color- has been the the color most often worn to funerary services in the Western world. People generally wore their 'good' clothes. Not these days.

I understand that in cases of poverty, one wears what one has, and that will have to do. I can accept that. (not trying to sound like some kind of snob here- I've been down that road, and have friends/family who are still struggling to get off it) Some people don't want their loved ones to wear colors traditionally associated with mourning and request colorful, cheery garb to be worn if possible. I can relate to that too. What I *don't* understand is the thought process of people who wear clothing that is better suited for the Las Vegas Strip or a quick trip to the gym when you CAN wear something more fitting for the occasion.

These are a few of the things I have seen at funerals the last few years:

*A torn, dirty Megadeath t-shirt and floral board shorts (on an approximately 20 y.o. male accompanied by his suit-wearing father)

*Tracksuits in assorted colors (both sexes and all ages)

*Blue jeans and a bikini top (seriously)

*A dress with cleavage cut down to an area that the hem barely covered (accompanying the bikini top wearer)

*An "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt (clearly worn by the wrong person, at the wrong time, in that party)

*Sweatsuits (again, all sexes & ages)

*A heavily pregnant girl wearing hot pants and a shirt with the belly cut out and the words "foxy mama" in sequins on the back.

Maybe I'm old fashioned. None of these seem particularly appropriate to me. What do you think?

P.S. For the record- I lifted my moratorium on solid black for Aunt Lora's funeral a few weeks back. I wore a dark purple sweater with a purple/black/white floral patterned skirt and black boots. My cleavage was not hanging out, and both my hoo-ha & rear end were completely covered AND stayed that way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Duke Is Mine- Eloisa James

The Duke Is Mine

I first found Eloisa James when I was working for Hawley Cooke Booksellers. At the time, it was my job to shelve the romance section, which I did, rather unwillingly. I hadn't read romances in years and had developed the mindset that many have toward it, thinking it to be low class garbage. I was an avid staff reviewer and generally had at least one pick in the monthly newsletter, so one of the owners came to me and requested that I start reviewing romances. He said a lawyer friend of his had told him that she always felt like she was being looked down on when she bought them, and he wanted to try to change the perception of them. Well, I couldn't really say no to the man who signed my paychecks, so I looked over the section and took a handful of books home. Honestly, I chose half of them by the covers. One of them was by Eloisa James, and I originally picked it up becasue the cover had a lot of purple on it. Dumb reason, smart move. I was so enthralled, once I started reading it that I went back to work and asked our inventory manager to order at least 3 copies of each of the books this author had out. (I think there were only 3 of 4 at the time)

Anyway, the last few years, Ms James has taken to adapting classic fairy tales to her Regency romance style. The Duke is Mine is the story of Olivia, who by all accounts is NOT the thing, but is doomed to be a duchess because of an agreement made by her father and an old school chum. Her much younger fiancee is hapless, and because of an accident during his birth, viewed as a general, albeit sweet natured, idiot. He insists on being allowed to go of to war before their marriage. Olivia, in turn, is packed off to the countryside with her sister who is now being considered as a prospective bride for another Duke. The problem is that he and Olivia wind up falling in love.

Because it's a romance novel, there is a happy ending. It doesn't get there easily, but is quite satisfactory. And a little bit tear-jerking. I was reading it on my kindle while flying cross-country to visit my cousins, and quite startled the man seated next to me when I started sobbing at what happened to poor Rupert, the original Duke. It doesn't give much away to tell you that he does die, but it's how he dies that made me cry. There are elements of The Princess & The Pea, and I think the Ugly Duckling makes a showing as well. Read  it for yourself and see what you think.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Musings- Dear Officer

As you may be aware, I work in a police department property room. We are responsible for the cataloguing and storing of evidence & found/personal property that comes in, as well as the documentation for said items. We often have clashes with officers who either think we're inferior because we're not sworn officers like they are, don't think it's important to follow the policies & procedures we have in place (which are generally for their protection AND ours), or who are just plain dumb. Now, I know there are days when *I* do/say dumb things, and we all have days like that. However, some of our crew have raised Being Stupid &/or Contrary to an art form. I have begun a series of letters that I'd love to send, but am not able to. (in most cases, that's probably a good thing) So here is one of the entries in the "Dear Officer" files, which I probably will turn into a book some day.

Please note- I truly respect ideals of the police department, and generally like and adore many of the officers that I come into contact with. But there are some...well, just read for yourself.....

Dear Officer-

1. Shut up.

2. Yes, you really have to fill out yet another piece of paperwork when you take money on a drug case.

3. Shut up.

4. Yes, you have to fill it out now.

5. Shut up.

6. No, WE do not fill it out for you.

7. Seriously, SHUT UP.

8. Yes, we WILL call your Sgt. and you may feel free to call ours if you’re going to have a hissy fit about this.

9. Really?

10. What exactly is the problem? You write the same thing on the form that you wrote on your citation. It’s just another form, and if you’d shut up and just filled the damned thing out while we put your stuff in, you’d have been done by now.

11. Once more, with feeling- SHUT UP!

12. Please leave now. I feel my IQ dropping.

13. Oh, yeah, SHUT UP.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Carl Warner's Food Landscapes

Carl Warner's Food Landscapes

I found this via Ree Drummond's website. (  if you've never been there, go and check it out- I adore her!) Being a food lover as well as a lover of the offbeat, I waited impatiently for my library to get a copy of it in. (I'm trying to be good and not buy books on a whim.) Finally got my reserved copy and I have to say it was worth the wait.  It's not just a collection of the pictures, Carl has added the story behind each one and gives the thought process on how each masterpiece was created. He also includes a listing of what each piece is made of- I turned reading the book into a game and tried to see how many things I could identify before looking at his listing! Naturally, the London piece is one of my favorites, but all of the 'landscapes' Carl Warner has created were fascinating.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Musings- Highlights of the most recent Highway to Hell tour

So, we recently had an Iowa relative pass away and I had to drive my parents up for the funeral. Somewhere in the archives are accountings of similar trips with my parents....they're always traumatic for me, but apparently my stories about them are great entertaiment for my friends. So with that in mind, here are some 'highlights' from our most recent trip:

1- We were supposed to leave at 10:30 Thursday morning. At 9:30, Greymalkin & Nightshade zipped out the door when I went to carry my suitcase out. Malkin recognized the “mama WILL kill you” tone of my voice when I screamed for them to get back in the house and obediently trotted back to the porch. Shady did not. I spent nearly an hour chasing her dumb butt around the house, yard, and cars before she finally decided she’d had enough and wanted to go inside. So I’m already in a good & foul mood.
2- Every stop was the same fight. First we had to battle to get my dad OUT of the car. My favorite moment was asking him why it took so long to open a door and get his legs out and he looked at me and said “I need to rest a minute first.” Rest for what? You haven’t had to do a thing but sit there for 2 hours!!! Then we’d have to fight to get him back IN the car. I sent a group of bikers into hysterics at one stop when I finally snapped and screamed “Get your withered old butt in the car NOW, dammit!”
3- We had had relatively good weather until we hit Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Then the bottom dropped out of the sky. And as we did the last 20 or so miles into Waterloo, the thunder & lightning show started. Once we hit the outskirts of town, I needed directions to the hotel. Mom looked at me blankly and said”I thought you knew how to get there.” She had the printed directions IN HER HANDS but didn’t want to turn on the lights to read them in case “it distracted you.”
4- I felt really bad for my poor cousin Katie. She just had a baby 10 days ago (the day Aunt Lora died), is dead tired, and just wants to stay home with her newborn. So of course she’s been dragged out to a family gathering and the kid is being passed around like a beer at a frat party. (She and her husband Nate fell asleep sitting up with their heads fallen sideways against each other at one point)
5- Mom's childhood friend, Gail, came to the funeral. Her daughter Pauline & I were sitting together with her 3 kids. The youngest asked if they’d been there before and was told that her great-grandpa was buried there somewhere, her grandpa was buried somewhere else, and then Gail cheerfully added “and Grandma is in my closet!” Pauline & I cracked up- it sounded like a deranged children’s story. Coming soon to bookstores near you- Grandma’s in the Closet- a Burial Primer for Inquisitive Children.

6- after the funeral, I took Dad back to the hotel. My aunts said they’d bring Mom back later. Got a sandwich from the shop in the lobby, which was very good. I tried to nap and managed to get in 30 minutes of sleep before the World’s Noisiest Asshat Convention checked in across the hall. Gave up on sleeping and read for a bit before giving up on that and going out to the shopping center nearby. Tried to see if Dad needed to go get dinner, but he didn’t answer the door. (found out later he’d gone to the casino) Browsed in a couple of stores, read magazines in the B&N, and stopped for a burger at the sandwich place in the lobby on my way back in. The same cashier was working and said “Hello again!”  I said I was surprised she remembered me as busy as they’d been. She told me I was the only person to say please or thank you to them all day, which is why she remembered me.
7- Sunday: At 3 a.m. I went across the hall to bang on the doors of the rooms hosting the World’s Noisiest Asshat Convention. At 3:05 I called the front desk to tell them they could send security up to get them or a cop up to get me when I attacked their door with a fire-axe. At 3:15, I heard “Police, open the door now!” By 3:30, 3 of the asshats were in custody and the rest of them shut the hell up.


8- More of the usual on the drive home. We stopped for lunch at the diner again. (got my usual this time- wasn’t making THAT mistake again) Then, about an hour later, we got a vivid reminder of WHY we don’t stop anywhere that isn’t immediately visible from the interstate. Mom wanted a bathroom break, and couldn’t wait. The exit sign said there was a gas station, there WAS, but it was about 3 miles in from the highway. I had a sinking feeling as we drew up to it, and it proved to be right. I got out of my car at the same time a shirtless guy got out of his truck. As I walked past him, I realized all of his numerous tattoos were variations on the Aryan Brotherhood theme. Uh oh. Then I realized that everyone in the lot was staring at us, a LOT of them had similar tats, and Bubba was on his cell phone saying “You are not going to BELIEVE what just walked past me!”

I turned around and walked back to the car- my parents were just finally getting out, and I said “get back in; we’re going to another exit.” Daddy started to argue and then he heard a little boy say “Hey, Papaw, why is that white lady riding in a car with niggers?” He looked at me, I looked back at him, and then he said to my still oblivious mother, “Get back in the car, Marie.” Mom started to argue and we both screamed “GET BACK IN THE DAMN CAR!” I literally burned rubber out of that lot, and didn’t stop until another exit 30 miles up the road.

Then when we did stop again, Dad went back into molasses in January mode getting out of the car. I realized I had pulled up to the gas pump on the wrong side if the car, so after my parents got out, I went to pull around. What does my father do? Walk directly into the path of the car. The store, BTW, was directly across from him as he got out, so there was NO reason for him to walk in front of me. Mom yanked him out of the way by the back of his shirt. I pulled forward, turned around, and headed back toward the pump….where my father was standing there examining it like he’d never seen one before. I rolled down the window and screamed at him to move. “I’m just looking,” he says. Yeah, and I’m just going to kill you now and be done with it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Department Stores- Claire Masset

Department Stores (Shire Library)

One of my favorite British TV shows is Are You Being Served?  I get a kick out of the staff of Grace Brothers Department Store, and the glimpses of shop life in the Seventies. Alas, real life retail isn't quite as entertaining- I speak from experience. However, having discovered the delightful Shire Library series, I had to read this volume on the genesis of department stores and their role in British culture. I never knew that the staff were once required to live in segregated dorms on the upper floors of the stores. Or that the shops were considered prime targets for bombing in war-time. I sort of knew that the modern department store had its roots in individual merchant shops, but I never thought about how they came to be as inclusive as they are today. Not only is there a wealth of historical information packed into this brief book, there are pictures of  the advertisements used to entice customers to patronize them. Quite a fun read!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Musings- Take This Job And Shove It

Lyrics | Johnny Paycheck lyrics - Take This Job And Shove It lyrics

The title of this song sums it up perfectly. I like some aspects of my job, but my coworkers go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that working in the office itself is unbearable. I'm tired of being called into the office and being questioned about various issues they raise. If I talk to them, I'm condescending and hostile; if I don't talk to them, I'm cold and hostile. They have to have the TV on 24/7 and way too loud for it to be appropriate for what is allegedly a professional office, and the firestorm that was generated when I argued that it needed to be turned down was epic. I was actually threatened by my coworkers when the boss said that one more spat about the TV would see it removed form the office. BECAUSE I WANTED TO TURN IT DOWN.

We had another 'come to Jesus' meeting recently. After having been threatened, I decided it was easier to let the children have their way with the TV and started wearing ear plugs. I could still hear the telephone and the door chimes indicating that there was someone to be waited on. And I stopped carrying on any sort of non-work related conversation, because frankly after having been threatened, I didn't have a damn thing left to say to any of these people. But that wasn't good enough for my coworkers, and they started complaining to the bosses again. Presumably because I was actually almost enjoying the job again.

So here I am, forcing myself  to set foot in my office every shift. It's bad when you have to psych yourself up to enter the office- it's worse when you go home and throw up after most shifts. That's the point I've reached.